Chemically grafted fibronectin for use in QCM-D cell studies


Traditionally, fibronectin has been used as a physisorbed surface coating (physFN) in cell culture experiments due to its critical role in cell adhesion. However, because the resulting layer is thick, unstable, and of unpredictable uniformity, this method of fibronectin deposition is unsuitable for some types of research, including quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) experiments involving cells. Here, we present a new method for chemical immobilization of fibronectin onto silicon oxide surfaces, including QCM crystals pre-coated with silicon oxide. We characterize these chemically coated fibronectin surfaces (chemFN) as well as physFN ones using surface ellipsometry (SE), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and contact angle measurements. A cell culture model demonstrates that cells on chemFN and physFN surfaces exhibit similar viability, structure, adhesion and metabolism. Finally, we perform QCM experiments using cells on both surfaces which demonstrate the superior suitability of chemFN coatings for QCM research, and provide real-time QCM-D data from cells subjected to an actin depolymerizing agent. Overall, our method of chemical immobilization of fibronectin yields great potential for furthering cellular experiments in which thin, stable and uniform coatings are desirable. As QCM research with cells has been rather limited in success thus far, we anticipate that this new technique will particularly benefit this experimental system by availing it to the much broader field of cell mechanics.

Biosensors and Bioelectronics 58, pp. 249–257,